The starting quarterback at the start of last season, redshirt senior Connor Reilly is now No. 2 on…
Ready for Training Camp
The long offseason after a 2-10 season in the first year under head coach Matt Rhule is over and training camp is set to start with the opening game at Vanderbilt four short weeks away on August 28.
Several late losses kept the Owls from having a moderately successful season, but the development of quarterback P.J. Walker – now a sophomore – was the biggest positive of 2013 as well as the biggest reason for promise in 2014.
Rhule said Walker, who threw for 2,084 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions while making just seven starts, and the skill position players could help make up for an inexperienced offensive line. Even with last year’s standout receiver Robby Anderson not returning, the Owls have depth at wideout with Khalif Herbin, Jalen Fitzpatrick, John Christopher, Sam Benjamin and Romond Deloatch.
Temple also has an experienced stable of backs in Kenny Harper, Zaire Williams and Jamie Gilmore.
“Any time you have a quarterback, you have a chance,” said Rhule. “Not only P.J. but (backup) Connor (Reilly). We have some really good receivers … We’re excited about those guys. “The thing we have to come to peace with is (center) Kyle (Friend) is our only experienced lineman. If you don’t win in the trenches, it’s hard to win, so our focus will be our kicking game and our offensive line.”
The Owls don’t have an incumbent at kicker. Sophomore Jim Cooper started at the beginning of last year but lost his job to Nick Visco, who is no longer with the team after making the Owls’ only three field goals last year – two in the final. Punter Paul Layton is also gone after using up his one remaining year of eligibility last year after transferring from Albany. Freshman Austin Jones will challenge Cooper for the kicking job. Freshman Alex Starzyk and returners Tyler Mayes, Colby Perry and Cooper are the punters in camp.
“I’ve talked to people who said they’d never seen a team who only had three interceptions and three field goals,” said Rhule. “We change those two things, we change our season.”
Defensive coordinator Phil Snow feels the Owls will improve their turnover numbers, and it only has a little to do with changes in the secondary, including the addition of safety Alex Wells, a junior college transfer. The Owls feel they'll be able to pressure opposing quarterbacks better with the emergence of some young talent like linebacker-turned-defensive end Sharif Finch.
Linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who led the country in solo tackles, last year will lead the way defensively the way Walker should on offense.
The Owls hope it all adds up to a huge improvement in the win column.
"There's no team on this schedule we can't beat, but there's also no team on this schedule we can't lose to," said Rhule. "I want to have high expectations. I want them to play in a bowl. I don't want to wait. I want to win championships and I hope they do too."
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